August 29, 2011

Review of "Demonglass"

Rachel Hawkins

Demonglass (A Hex Hall Novel)


Pub. Date: March 1, 2011
Pages: 359
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Synopsis:  Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.
That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.
Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.
But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Acher to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

I really loved "Demonglass", it actually kind of surprised me how much I loved it.  I know I really enjoyed "Hex Hall", but I enjoyed "Demonglass" more.  I'm not sure if I was just really in the mood for it or what, but I just thought it was a great combination of funny and adventure.  I just love the tone of these books.  They deal with some very serious issues, but Sophie is so spunky it lightens the entire mood of the book.

Sophie struggles with her identity as a demon and desperately wants to go through the Removal.  She is also trying to learn more about her family history while solving the mystery of who is raising demons.  Luckily she has plenty of people to sass off to and other demons trying to get her to loosen up a bit.  If this isn't enough to keep Sophie busy, she is struggling with her feelings for Archer.  I have to say that I love Cal's dry sense of humor in this book.  Yes, Cal plays a major role in this book!  I would explain, but I would be ruining a good laugh.

I was a bit worried that I would miss the setting of Hex Hall, but there was so much going on I didn't really think about it.  I really wanted to know who was raising demons and if Sophie would accept herself as a demon.  Is she just a vessel for evil that will one day take control of her body making her kill innocent people or is this something she can learn to control?

I love the combination of romance, mystery, paranormal, identity, and humor that the both "Hex Hall" and "Demonglass" possess.  Rachel Hawkins has impressed me so far with this series.  It may not be super original, but it is such a fun read full of adventure that it didn't bother me.  I am over the fact that the covers have black cats that aren't in the book.  I was taking them WAY too seriously.  The covers are cute and so are the books.  I would recommend "Hex Hall" and "Demonglass" to fans of Meg Cabot, "Paranormalcy" and the "Magic in Manhattan" series.  I kind of feel like fans of Ally Carter might enjoy this series as well.

August 28, 2011

Review of "City of Fallen Angels"

"City of Fallen Angels"
Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)4

Pub. Date: April 5, 2011
Pages: 424
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Synopsis:  The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her. His mother just found out that he's a vampire and now he's homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that's wrecking his life. And they're willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he's dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one.
When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

I'm assuming I was like everyone and pretty shocked that there was another book in the "Mortal Instruments" series... especially since it was marketed as a trilogy.  I loved the other books in the series and "Clockwork Angel", but I didn't feel that with "City of Fallen Angels".  I thought everything was wrapped up nicely in "City of Glass" so I was curious to see where this series would go next.  I have to say that I am a bit disappointed.  I thought we were over the questioning of worthiness between both Clary and Jace, but apparently not.  After all they have been through I assumed they would have learned to communicate, but that was false hope too.  Luckily the book focus on multiple plots taking away from some of the annoyance of their issues.

Simon had a major role in this book, but he wasn't very Simonesque.  He was two-timing some fantastic females... this just isn't the Simon we know and love.  I thought this aspect of the story was pretty useless.  It didn't create enough conflict for it to really be relevant.  The lack of Alec and Magnus also left the book a bit flat.  They are such great characters I was disappointed not to see more of them.  Even Isabelle seemed to fall a little flat.

If the characters annoyed me so much, why did I give such a good review?  I had trouble putting the book down.  The mysteries behind the death of the Shadowhunters is much more twisted and gripping than the synopsis makes it sound.  I have to say that this conflict is really what kept me going through this book.  There was a lot of interesting things happening in Simon's life... and yes Jace was being all tormented and emo (he had a pretty good reason though so I'll let it slide).  There were some new interesting characters who came into the book that really sparked my interest.

Overall, I wish this book had focused on new characters.  We could have been introduced to a different group of Shadowhunters or Cassandra Clare could have left Jace and Clary out of it.  I guess that wouldn't have solved the problems with the rest of the characters, but if there had been more focus on them they would have stayed truer to the original three books.  I am still looking forward to "Clockwork Prince", but I don't think I will be in a rush to read "City of Lost Souls".

Review of "Fire"

Kristin Cashore

Fire (Graceling)5

Pub. Date: September 24, 2009
Pages: 461
Publisher: Gollancz

Summary:  It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her. Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next.

I thought "Graceling" was great and "Fire" did not disappoint.  I was hooked by the end of the first chapter.  I liked that we were shown another part of Cashore's world.  The monsters sounded beautiful and I loved the fact that their beauty would captivate men so that they could kill them.  Even bugs were beautiful enough that some characters would allow for themselves to be bit.  These monsters were just as deadly as they were radiant.  Fire was so beautiful that men had trouble controlling their urges towards her and Fire had the power to control the minds of others.  The danger is both her beauty and power is terrifying and created tons of conflict throughout the book.

I really liked the characters; they were full of depth.  Fire was interesting because she was so hesitant to use her powers even though it would have made he life much easier.  Her moral code was very strict, but that didn't mean she was a saint.  Archer was both a character you couldn't help adore, but sometimes he was such a scoundrel I wanted to slap him.  Some of the characters I disliked at the beginning of the book I grew to love.

"Fire" might not be a book for all readers.  Even though I did not find this book to be slow (I listened to it on audio and I would sit in parking lots DYING to know what happened next) I can see how some readers might not think there is enough going on. I liked that the book wasn't just about the threat to King Nash's throne.  I think "Fire" had a lot more intensity to it because it focused on bigger issues than the struggle to control the Dells.  The book was full of heart and had enough suspense to grip me until the end.  

August 9, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: Demonglass (Hex Hall 2)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

by Rachel Hawkins

"I'd wanted to move my bed and decided to use magic to do it.  Instead of scooting over a few feet, the bed had gone fling out the window, taking out a big chunk of the wall with it. " (page 25)

 It is killing me that I don't have more time to read because "Demonglass" is off to a great start!

What is your teaser?

August 8, 2011

Review of "Beauty Queens"

"Beauty Queens"
Libba Bray

Beauty Queens4

Pub. Date: May 24, 2011
Pages: 390
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Synopsis: The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

I feel like such a weirdo because I didn't love this book.  I did think it was a lot of fun and I liked how it did push the envelope, but it felt almost too heavy handed.  I felt like the story was just too broken up with commercials and footnotes, at the beginning I loved this, but towards the end I was just dying to know what was going to happen next!  There was a beginning of a bookmance... but sadly I fell out of love a bit by the end.

My favorite part about "Beauty Queens" was the characters- they were FANTASTIC!  They were all endearing in their own ways, even if I did want to slap them a couple of times.  I liked how they all had their insecurities, which made them entertaining and relatable.  Some of the characters may have been a bit far fetched, hell most of the book is pretty unbelievable, but Libba Bray is a master at making the ridiculous work in her books.  I think her characters are what bring the readers back to reality when they sometimes feel like they are in a parallel dimension.

The over abundance of romance kind of bothered me a bit in this book.  It just seemed to come a little too easily for everyone, but by the end it came back to reality a bit.  I don't know why this bothered me so much, this book obviously isn't super realistic, but I worry when books create these impossibly perfect romances- love is wonderful, but it is not perfect... nothing is!

I really did like how this book was able to deal with some pretty controversial issues in a way that showed how important they are, but without being depressing or too serious.  I liked how the girls decided they wanted to create basically a girl power convention where there were lectures on subjects from makeovers to self-respect.  I also liked how the book discussed sexuality in every way I could possibly think.

"Beauty Queens" is a great book; it deals with a lot of important issues and I actually really appreciated this.  I just wish there weren't as many fake commercials.  This book probably isn't for all readers; I can see some people being offended by this book.  It is definitely for mature readers.  I feel like readers who enjoyed "Airhead" series by Meg Cabot will probably enjoy this book.